What is your true value?

Having recently experienced the suicide of someone close to me, I am mindful of certain things. I will not speculate on his motives–who can know what passes through the mind of the suicidal in those last few moments when there is still time to rescue an entire future, and spare family and friends enormous suffering? I’ll never know, but I suffered his death intensely for many days.

The suffering is passed now, but it has left me thinking about the employment crisis in the legal world, and I know how lawyers think– ‘I am only as good as my last case/settlement/fee/billable hours/promotion/client signing/income/bonus, etc’ If there is a group in our world who judge themselves by what they do, and how they do it, and whether it is done better than someone else doing the same thing, then that group is lawyers.Pass/fail, good/bad, right/wrong, win/lose, black/white, good guy/bad guy– the legal world is a binary world, and most lawyers are far harsher judges of themselves than any judge they might face in court. There is always the huge tendency to judge oneself according the narrowest and strictest performance related parameters. And thus, the tendency to confuse being a good lawyer with one’s self worth.

Yes, of course it feels to good to succeed. But, you are not loved by your husband or wife, your kids, friends, brothers, sisters, parents, because you are a good lawyer. How you feel about yourself as a lawyer is mostly a private affair, just between you and the judge that lives in your head. Those who love you do so because of who you are, not what you do.

Which is why I say, when the topic comes up in my work, that we cannot know our own true value, only those who know and love us can know that. Time and again, in my work with people who have experienced the suicide of someone close, I see the loss, sadness, deep hurt and longing for the dead. The suicide most often thinks he is solving a problem for survivors, surmising his value has to do with quantities, or with something tangible or measurable. His death is seen as a way of relieving survivors of the problems his existence has caused.

Of course, the only thing that happens is an emotional neutron bomb the effects of which are felt forever after. When the suicide happens, the loved ones and family don’t grieve the lost income, the lost job. They grieve the person and the hopelessness he inadvertently dragged them all towards. No problems are solved, only larger ones created.

So, what is your true value, and is it really for you to know? Perhaps it would be best to put those thoughts aside, and pay attention to the truly valuable elements of life, which are not, and can never be measured. Only those who love you truly know.

Jim Dolan
Professional Coach to Legal and Medical Professionals

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